I was talking to a conservative friend of mine this weekend. This is a real right-wing "A Corporation Is A Person" Kool-Aid drinking republican. We were talking about last week's tragic events at the mall, at the school, at the mall again. There were three different incidents of gun violence and he was just sure that – as a bleeding-heart liberal – I would want to immediately ban all guns.
Whoa! Me? A Liberal!?
Certainly, I have a few pretty liberal views, but I have as many conservative views. I am centrist because not everything fits into the same box. I tend toward liberalism on social issues and conservatives on fiscal issues. But that is not what this column is about… This article is about gun control.
As my friend rightly pointed-out (ignoring the introductory clause of the second amendment as the Supreme Court has apparently thought it was irrelevant), there is a constitutional right to bear arms. There is, however, no constitutional right to ammunition.
No! Seriously, think about it. What does the second amendment say?
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
"Arms!" It says nothing about ammunition. Sure, I is a bit of a nit-pick, but to the NRA who want us to ignore the introductory clause that is there; about a "well regulated militia" and "the security of a free state" we can surely hold them to not introducing a right that isn't there!
Why not tax ammunition to the point that it is prohibitively expensive? There are just too many guns and ammunition in the hands of people who have no need of them. And before anyone says that we have no right to regulate a legal product… take cigarettes and alcohol as examples. They are both subject to the "sin tax" because they are dangerous of used improperly – well, cigarettes are dangerous when used properly, but that is another column and another day!
Onerous taxes on ammunition would, in my humble opinion go a long way to reducing gun violence by making it too expensive to commit the crimes in the first place. Besides that, it would not run afoul of the second amendment. "Arms" are specifically the firearm, not the bullets. As Jake Johansen observed:
"Guns don't kill people; it's those darn bullets. The gun just makes the bullets go really fast. You can't hold-up a 7-11 with a hand-full of bullets."
Wherever you are today I wish you solace if you have been impacted by the violence of the last week and wish you continued safety and security if you haven't.